Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy Obsessive Compulsive New Year!

Like many people these days, I've had my share of therapy -- on and off -- for years, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. From time to time issues come up for me that I can't shake off with positive thinking, gratitude lists, prayer or a diet of "super mood foods". Sometimes it takes sitting down with someone who's been trained to deal with what author John Cheever used to call his "depresh".

So I've not been particularly concerned about the tinge of anxiety that's crept into my consciousness in the last year or two, the occasional panic that something's wrong (particularly at work), or something will be going wrong very soon. Ask me exactly what I'm afraid will be going awry, the dreaded event (event horizon?) that will derail my life as I know it, and I have no answer. "I don't know," I'm likely to say, "but it's on its way and I can't stop it! Medicate me now!" 

I'm told that meditation helps too, regular, daily meditation. Focusing on the moment at hand, not living in the past or the future -- neither of which exists -- and paying attention to this moment, which is, of course, all we really have. So I've started meditating. I meditated yesterday morning for ten minutes. And this morning for ten minutes. I'd like to say everything has changed as a result, but I don't need to tell you that's not the way it works. Meditation doesn't work on "issues" the way ibuprofen works on a headache. It will take time. But enough people, whose opinions I trust, swear by the practice, people who (not to get too New Age-y about it) definitely have a different aura about them.

All that said, I've become aware of something new, a different wrinkle in all this that alternately amuses and concerns me: I think I'm developing a little late-onset OCD. Not possible, you say? I say, you're wrong.

To wit: I find I'm constantly checking to make sure I have my wallet. Several times a day I pat my butt to assure myself that the new, compact, skinny wallet I recently purchased with a Groupon, has not slipped out of my back pocket. Then, having made sure that the wallet is there I take it out of the pocket and open it to make sure my money and/or credit/debit cards haven't fallen out somewhere, to be used by unscrupulous people out to steal my identity. Okay? Several times a day. Is that OCD? And when I have the wallet out to pay for something, I take that opportunity to check its contents. 

The other new development is checking my keys: I received a new key ring for Christmas, a very nice one, engraved with my name. One of those key rings you can pull apart so as to hand only your car keys to the parking attendant or valet. Since I've started using it, I find I check three or four times before I leave the apartment to make sure I have it with me. It's in my hand, but I have to look -- to make sure I have the right key ring? Maybe.

But also to make sure all the keys are there. As though sometime when I wasn't looking, some of the keys (which have turned into little anthropomorphic, cartoon keys) jumped off the key ring and have been dancing around on the kitchen counter, then hiding behind the coffee maker as soon as I get ready to go out. I swear I'm not making this up, and I can't for the life of me figure out where this is all coming from. 

Only I do wonder if it isn't connected with the fact that, the older you get, the more things change and fall away. Having lost two siblings, both parents and a life partner so far, and more aware than ever that everything changes, maybe I just want to be sure of something, that I'm in some kind of control. Even just a little bit. Even if it means listening for those dancing keys, trying to catch them before they jump back on the key ring, giggling because they know they're driving me crazy.


  1. Not to panic, Freddie. The old key ring and wallet were friends. You had a connection with them. You understood their feel, their weight, their temperature. You knew when they'd been naughty and when they were nice! You do not have that connection, yet, with your new key ring and wallet. But, you will.

  2. I love this post, Fred. I'm not ocd yet, but i do check those keys as i'm walking out the door and then, 10 seconds later, just before I close the door behind me -- like i forgot i just checked. as for meditation -- the fact that you've done it twice for 10 minutes is awesome and i cheer you on to do more and more -- i want to do the same, but haven't found that discipline yet. talk to Ed -- he's the meditation king.

    miss you! :-) bobbi
    ps -- i love what the above person wrote -- Dino -- listen to Dino.